Christmas treats

I ended up taking a longer break than I had planned from the gigantic Cormoran Strike mystery (Troubled Blood) I thought was going to be occupying my week: I read with great enjoyment to page 152, whereupon my copy of the book started over again at page 121, went to 152 again, and then skipped to page 185! Two identical signatures followed by a missing one. True to signature sequencing, there were probably other errors later on, but I didn’t bother to find them, I just told Amazon to send me a new one tout de suite. But while I waited, I needed something to read.

People on “What should I read next?” have been asking for Christmas or holiday books to fill their Decembers with better stories than the real one in which they are isolated at home with Covid-19, and I have been suggesting that they read Jenny Colgan‘s half-dozen second books that are the Christmas stories attached to her regular novels. She has one for the Cupcake Café, one for the Little Beach Street Bakery, two for the Island of Mure, and two more attached to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop. The double gift here is that if you haven’t read the first, non-Christmas book, you can easily fill up your entire month of December by reading #1 and #2 of each of them, and then go on to round it out with the remaining sequels.

I myself had not read either of the Rosie Hopkins set that follow Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams, mentioned here in last year’s wrap-up of Christmas reading, so while waiting on Amazon and Cormoran to get back to me, I picked up Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop. It begins shortly after the first book left off, and includes all the same characters with their relationships one to another and also to the Derbyshire village of Lipton, now buried under a blanket of snow unfamiliar to former city girl Rosie. We get to see the progression of Rosie’s relationship with new beau Stephen, her aunt Lilian’s adaptation to relocating from her cottage to the elder-care facility, and renew acquaintance with all the quirky (and otherwise) characters from the village. In addition, Rosie’s mother, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew/nieces descend from faraway Australia for the Christmas season. But just before they are about to arrive, a tragedy, with Stephen at its core, strikes in the village, and Rosie is so distracted and upset by current events that it promises to be a less than stellar Christmas. This is, however, a Jenny Colgan book, so you know that somehow joy will prevail. There are some surprises based on the pasts of a couple of the characters, and all in all it’s a satisfying story arc.

Having gotten into this holiday mood, I decided (despite the arrival on the front porch of my replacement book) to continue by reading The Christmas Surprise, the third book in this group—which actually begins a couple of weeks after Christmas. Who knows, Cormoran and Robin may have to wait until January at this rate. Which may be good for my Goodreads challenge, since I can get in three books for the “price” of one by pursuing all the Colgans instead of the single volume of 944 pages offered by Rowling, er, Galbraith!

We’ll see what happens.

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